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Dean Burnett - Four Way Interview

Dean Burnett is a neuroscientist and stand-up comedian. He lives in Cardiff and works at the Institute for Psychological Medicine and Clinical Neurosciences at Cardiff University. The most-read blogger on the Guardian Science network, his 'Brain Flapping' blog has been viewed over 11 million times. His latest book is The Happy Brain.

Why science?

Obvious answer would be 'Why not science?', but I imagine that's been done. My own interest in science stems, I think, from being an early love of sci-fi that offered some escapism from being a shy, chubby child in an isolated rural community. I wanted to find out why I was different, never really got a good answer, but my research into the brain sparked my interest and it pretty much snowballed from there.

Why this book?


I never planned to write a second book. I didn't even plan to write a first one, if I'm honest, but I got the opportunity to do so and thought I should take it. Figured it would be a one time thing, so essentially splurged all my saved up knowledge in it, expecting it to be met with a polite nod then be forgotten about. Didn't happen; it went really well, so my agents and publishers started asking what my second book was going to be. I had no clue, so started asking everyone I knew for suggestions. While they all varied tremendously, the one thing people kept saying was 'You've just got to write about whatever makes you happy.' Turns out, I'm a very literal person.

What's next?


Hopefully, more writing, what with me having given up my day job to do it full time not too long ago. Discussing future book plans now, but one thing I've always done is not form any concrete plans. Given my background and connections, getting into university in the first place meant I was in uncharted waters, so I've learned to just see how things pan out and react to opportunities as and when they occur. Seems to have worked out ok so far, but I'm probably overdue a crushing public embarrassment, so keep an eye out for that. 

What's exciting you at the moment?


As hinted at before now (and throughout my works), I don't really feel I was 'meant' to be a prominent writer/academic/scientist, and yet here we are. So what I do like doing is finding someone else with something relevant to say and helping get their stuff out there too. I find this very rewarding, so it's not exactly altruistic, but I feel like I've been let into 'the establishment' by accident, so am holding the door open for as many other misfits and oddballs as I can before they notice. 

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